Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Paula Brackston & Bluebell

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Paula Brackston, the author of The Witch’s Daughter and The Winter Witch, and this is my dog Bluebell. She is a Labrador cross Merle Collie, and would rather I didn’t give her age.

What’s the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

This is really Darjeeling with a Dog. Or actually, the walk before the cup of tea. It’s a daily thing with us. Blue has my long term health uppermost in her mind at all times, and persuades me to get some fresh air and exercise as often as she can. The tea is my reward.

What’s brewing?

Twinings Darjeeling or Lapsang Souchon. Made in a pot and served in a fine bone china cup with saucer. With milk and sugar. Blue has spring water.

Any treats?

Shortbread for me. Blue won’t touch it, says she’s watching her figure. But she will have a couple of dog biscuits, or maybe a lap of milk. It’s the only time she’ll eat any actual dog food. For dinner she has whatever we’re having. Sunday roast is her fave.

How were you and Bluebell united?

A friend has a black Labrador who had a romantic liaison with a neighbouring sheepdog. I was invited to lunch, seated next to the basket of snuffling puppies, and I was hooked. Some friend!

How did Bluebell get her name?

She has different coloured eyes – one is bright blue. We call her all sorts of things – Blueberry muffin, Snoo, Spotty Muldoon… the list goes on. Fortunately she answers to Hi or any loud cry. We’ve had to give up playing Twister, though, as every time someone shouts out ‘Right hand on blue!’ she gets terribly nervous.

Does Bluebell do more to help or to hinder your writing?

She has an excellent ear for regional dialogue, so I try it out on her from time to time.

Cat, postman, squirrel…?

Postman. Postmen in fact – she can sniff out an off-duty one anywhere. She’s such a gentle creature, ordinarily, but anyone smelling of stamps or junk mail… look out. Gets very growly, hackles up, teeth bared. And cyclists, too, she can’t abide them. I think it’s the lycra.

Some of her best friends are cats. In fact, she wouldn’t dream of chasing anything with four legs. Or a beak.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick…?

You throw it, she’ll fetch it. Unless it’s a tantrum. And she’s very fond of board games. Will watch us playing Monopoly, ears pricked, eyes bright, tail wagging, for hours. If only the rest of us could remain so enthusiastic.

Does Bluebell have a favorite place to go for outings?

She always comes in the car on the school run, just in case we meet any cyclists. And we visit friends by the sea, so she can enjoy a game of cricket on the beach. We’re fortunate enough to live on the side of a Welsh mountain, so we have 520 square miles of National Park to run around in. Or so she keeps reminding me. Don’t think we’ve covered it all yet.

Who are Bluebell’s best pet-pals?

Can we count my two children? I’m sure she thinks they are puppies. And our two cats. She’s very affectionate with them as long as she thinks nobody’s looking.

What is Bluebell’s best quality?

Aside from being simply the Best Dog Ever, d’you mean? She’s incredibly sensitive, cuddly, funny, loyal, well-behaved (postmen and cyclists not withstanding), and her ears are made of velvet.

If Bluebell could change one thing about you what would it be?

I’ve asked her this, and after a deal of squirming she admitted she’d like me to stop using the vacuum cleaner, as the noise upsets her. How can I refuse?

If Bluebell could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her?

Is it OK that we make you be the little silver dog every time we play Monopoly, or would you prefer the top hat sometimes?

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Bluebell could speak, who should voice her?

How did this get out? The contracts aren’t finalised yet! You might as well know we’re hoping to cast Meryl Streep. It’s the colour of her eyes, and the length of her nose… plus we’d really like her to try a Welsh accent.

Visit Paula Brackston's website and blog.

Writers Read: Paula Brackston (February 2013).

--Marshal Zeringue

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